Term Paper: Career Counseling and Multicultural Students

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[. . .] One description of a world-view is more politically defined than other descriptions. By this definition, a world-view is "how a person perceives his/her relationship to the world (nature, institutions, other people, things, etc.)" (Sue & Sue, 1990, p. 137).

This view is focused on internal vs. external focus of control and responsibility, maintaining that in the United States, Caucasians tend to have a sense of internal control and responsibility.

This notion translates into the dominant U.S. society affinity for people who "pull themselves up by their own bootstraps." Individuals are believed to be in control of their own lives and are responsible for what happens in their lives (Sue & Sue, 1990).

Aspirations and Expectations

Aspirations and expectations also influence career choice. Racial and ethnic minority individuals have high career aspirations and the level of aspiration does not seem differ significantly among groups.

There are often more gender differences than ethnic or racial differences in an individual's aspiration and expectations (Arbona & Novy, 1991). However, despite high levels of expectation, ethnic groups are typically both over- and under-represented in various career areas (Fouad & Bingham, 1995).

Some minorities may self-limit their career choices because of their perceptions about the amount of sexism and racism they will encounter within the profession.

Some people have hypothesized that women's vocational choices are influenced by their self-efficacy, with women feeling more confident in their ability to succeed in what have been traditionally female jobs (Fouad & Bingham, 1995).

Vicarious learning, or observing other people being successful, is an important source for an individuals' view of their own likelihood to succeed (Tang, 2002).

It seems fairly obvious that a different configuration of factors influences the career development of persons of different cultural and racial heritage. Despite their individuality, people from the same culture do share common experiences, helping to shape their attitudes, values, expectations, and aspirations.

Individuals from different cultural backgrounds can be expected to vary in the expectations, aspirations, and values they bring to the career development process (Tinsley, 1994, p. 115).

Societal Barriers and Intra-Group Socialization

The career attainment of members of racial and ethnic minorities may be a result of a combination of societal barriers and socialization within their own groups. For example, some researchers have found that Asian-Americans have a more dependent decision-making style than do their Caucasian counterparts, being more group-oriented.

An Asian-American may feel a greater need to give consideration to the family's expectations than a Caucasian-American, who will be more likely to think it more important to make a separate and individual vocational decision.

Socialization, however, does not account for all of the variance in occupational attainment. In some instances, it is more likely that environmental barriers have more influence than socialization (Fouad & Bingham, 1995).

Career counselors face the difficult task of helping racial and ethnic minority students to explore their aspirations and to identify potential obstacles in their paths. Further, an effective career counselor must help students become aware of any self-efficacy issues that may be restricting their career choices.

The counselor must help students identify variables within their control, as well as external barriers and any possible solutions for overcoming those barriers, in order to maximize their chances for a satisfying career (Sue & Sue,1990).

Similarly, counselors will increase opportunities for success if they sufficiently understand the roles of world-views and racial-identity development in the career decision-making process (Fouad & Bingham, 1995).

In a study of Asian-American students, it was observed that there is a higher rate of "Investigative" (science and technology) career choices, which might be the result of occupational stereotyping and occupational discrimination.

A stereotype of excellence in science and technology-related occupations may cause students to mistakenly believe that they can only be successful in these areas (Tang, 2002).

When Asian-American students observe many of their peers pursuing careers in science and technology, and see very few pursuing careers in the humanities or the social sciences, they quite logically come to believe that an Asian-American should select an occupation in science and technology (Tang, 2002).

Parental influence on the career choices of individuals is also evident for Asian-Americans. These students tend to comply with their parents' preferences not only because of traditional values, but also because of the responsibility to shoulder parents' expectation that the child will bring fame to the family.

For many Asian-Americans, an occupation is an indication of upward social mobility and a compromise between parents' expectations and the individual's preferences (Tang, 2002).

Research also points to the importance of family in African-American career development.

Although multicultural theory points to the importance of relationships in career progress, little attention has been given to career theory, research, or practice efforts that reflect these worldviews.

An integrated understanding and appreciation of cultural heritage, acculturation, generational status, and ethnic identity development is needed to more sensitively approach career counseling from a more meaningful cultural and relational context (Palladino-Shultheiss, 2003).

Research on women's career development has emphasized the importance of barriers, but the types of obstacles encountered by women of color and Mexican-American women may be unique (McWhirter, 1998).

Greater emphasis on the importance of family and community, rather than on the individual is (in general) more typical of Asian, Hispanic, and Native American groups than of European-Americans (Arbona, 1995; Leong & Serafica, 1995).

In examining the impact of cultural diversity on occupational choice and opportunity, it has been suggested that social, rather than physical (genetic), differences may account for ethnic differences in career-choice behavior.

It has been stated that an individual's belonging to a minority group may significantly affect his or her career choices, with the determining issue being the extent to which the individual's social background and experience is different from that of the majority (Roe & Lunneborg, 1991).

Racial and Ethnic Identity

Ethnic identity includes self-concept and self-identification, a sense of belonging, and both the positive and negative attitudes toward one's ethnic group (McNeill, 2001).

Ethnic, or racial, identity is an important factor in the determination of behavior and perception. Like world-views, racial identities differ across groups and are based on both cultural values and sociopolitical environments (Fouad & Bingham, 1995).

The concept of ethnic identity has been defined as "that part of an individual's self-concept which derives from his knowledge of his membership of a social group (or groups) together with the value and emotional significance attached to that membership" (McNeill, 2001, p. 274).

Thus, ethnic identity is broad and multidimensional, encompassing self-identification, a sense of belonging, positive and negative attitudes toward the ethnic group, social participation, and cultural practices.

A positive sense of ethnic identity has been clearly linked to high levels of self-esteem, self-concept, and psychological adjustment (McNeill, 2001).

A recent study concluded that two decisions determine which of three types the Chinese-American falls into. The first decision is whether to conform to or rebel against their parental values. Those who choose to conform and adopt Chinese values are in the traditionalist category.

Those who choose to rebel against parental values also must then decide whether to adopt Western values or to develop Asian-American values. These choices are similar to factors involved in assimilation or acculturation (Sue & Sue, 1973).

Relationships, Contradictions, Gaps or Inconsistencies

The literature generally points to the fact that the variables to be considered in career counseling across cultures may differ, while, at the same time, the weight placed on those variables may differ across cultures. Thus, all students, regardless of culture, may consider family pressures and obligations, but the importance that familial commitments play in their career decisions may differ.

It is also clear that many of the theoretical models of career counseling may not adequately explain the career behavior of racial and ethnic minorities.

Vocational assessment must be culturally sensitive, and only culturally appropriate tools should be used.

Some of the literature approaches cultural differences in career counseling from the perspective of cultural diversity, acknowledged and valued, while some comes from a perspective of cultural deprivation or deficit.

All cultural groups cannot and should not be compared to a Caucasian, dominant U.S. culture standard. Differences among cultural groups will not disappear if the structure for opportunity is equal among all groups.

Some limitations in the literature arise from the methods used to acquire the data upon which conclusions were based. Often the samples used were not randomly selected and the sample size was small.

Participants in some of the studies were volunteers who consented to participate in a study prior to receiving career counseling services. It is possible that some participants represented a self-selected group due to factors that may have interfered with the results.

Another limitation is that some of the data was self-reported by participants, and the responses were, therefore, not controlled for distortions due to defensiveness or other factors. Some of the elements being studied were difficult to measure, making… [END OF PREVIEW]

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